Monday, November 29, 2010

A Cold Cup Of Coffee: Family

This is a special edition of A Moment With Morris. This is part of an ongoing series I affectionately titled "A Cold Cup of Coffee". Bringing you real life without the sweeteners, a cold and sometimes bitter, but always necessary sip of reality. This time we're looking at, Family.

Yes, we’ve all got one. Now “family” is truly just a form of classification, it’s how we link species together and map gene pools. In our society, we take it a step further. We include not only our blood, but friends, neighbors, and community into that category. Well today, we’re talking about blood. Those people we share a name, room and sometimes womb with…Family.

As we are in the midst of the holiday season, this is really the time when family comes out of the wood work. That trip to grandma’s house, little brother coming home from college, or just an all out family gathering, can all set the table for an interesting affair.

I have recently been to several family functions, my own as well as others, and have had quite the experiences. It’s funny to see how we act and respond around the people who know us most intimately. How quickly the fronts, masks, and facades begin…oh yes, suddenly everyone has jumped up a tax bracket, are getting promoted, or have “big things” coming. For whatever reason, there is this need to put an imaginary "best" foot forward, for our kin. Why? Why lie? We all know the truth.

Yes, the TRUTH. The way it really went down, and the way it really is, because we know YOU, we know US, we're family. So let's break down these lies and keep it 100. We know you didn’t choose to move, you got evicted. You didn’t decide to focus on your career, he left you. You did love that car, you just didn’t love paying the note so they took it. Yes you’ve gained weight, no your girlfriend isn’t cute, your potato salad was suspect, and we think your child is “special”. Just keeping it real. In fact, I’ll do you one better, and keep it realer…we don’t care.

Family is not the gauge in which you judge success. What’s in my brother’s bank account has absolutely nothing to do with MY accomplishments. We want to look good in the eyes of our family, but let’s knock off the nonsense. You’re trying to impress the people that watched you take baths in the sink as a baby. The ones that had to scrub the walls after you decided to finger paint with what was in your diaper. The ones that know the real reason you don’t drink fluids after 7 pm…we KNOW you.

I’m just saying, can we have a truly open and honest moment? I understand not wanting everyone in your business, but do you think we didn’t hear you arguing all the way up the front steps before you got to the door and put on those fake smiles? We heard you, but we’ll still act surprised next year when you tell us you’re getting divorced. No your child doesn’t have ADD, ADHD, BPP…he doesn’t listen to you because you need to whup his A-S-S. Funny how he can’t sit still when you tell him to, but he can focus and play XBOX for 9 straight uninterrupted hours…hmmm. Some of you have lost your minds, look, don’t bring a different girl to each function and get mad when we call her the wrong name. Family functions are for significant others…leave the side chick at home (See “An Affair To Remember…But To Celebrate?”). And most importantly…No you do not make it “just like grandma”! She has the title, you’re not even a contender. You only embarass yourself with such talk.

I say these things because we're in this together. Good or bad, it doesn't change our relationship, we're still family, so let's have one based in honesty. That's fathers to sons, mothers to daughters, cousins to cousins, siblings, everybody.

Look, Thanksgiving is over, but we can still make things right before the New Year. I love my family, all of it. We are a great big ball of talent, resentment, love, co-dependency, creativity and dysfunctional passion…and I wouldn’t trade them in for the world. They are as much a part of me as the organs that give me life, but there is room to grow closer, and that begins with keeping it real.

Family is a gift, like a sweater you didn’t ask for, but can’t return. So smile and accept it. Don’t try to hide it in the back of the closet. Don’t complain about the size, the fit or lie about the label. Just put it on, wear it proudly, and like the song says remember..."We are family."

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Give Thanks

It’s that time of year again, Thanksgiving. When the family gets together and shows their appreciation over a meal of turkey, gravy and all the trimmings. We’re familiar with the setting, the women in the kitchen cooking, as the men stare intensely at some sporting event on tv. All the while as the children periodically question, “is it ready yet?” Ah yes, Thanksgiving.

This seems to be one of the few times a year when people show some appreciation, when gift giving is not involved. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-Turkey Day, I appreciate this holiday for what it does for people and families. Anything that produces togetherness and at the same time, a free meal…I’m all about that.

This year I would just like for people to really get the meaning of Thanksgiving. Though it has many questionable origins, the basis for Thanksgiving is the story of a tribe of Native American Indians helping the Pilgrims avoid starvation by teaching them to fish and work the land. The result being a huge harvest that they enjoyed together. Touching. Now that in itself would be a great story and reason to show thanks…but let’s look a little deeper.

Those Indians saw a group in trouble, and based upon their feelings of love, duty and responsibility they helped where they could. Often we find ourselves trying to help those in need, we feel that it’s the right thing to do, even for strangers we don’t know. The Pilgrims were clueless as how to survive, without assistance, they were doomed. As a result of their goodwill, the Pilgrims were not only able to survive, but thrive. Now that’s a reason to celebrate.

Many times in life we are the architect of our own demise. Through a series of decisions and actions, we systematically create the machine that will in the end, bring us down. The Indians had no idea that the very people they saved, would be the ones to do them in.

Once the Pilgrims reached a level of stability, more came. Bringing with them never before seen diseases and ideas that were forced on the Indians. Many perished due to new illnesses, where others were forced to abandon their ways and convert to Christianity. The very same people that saved the Pilgrims were now seen as a "problem". The end result was, a powerful, productive, and loving community was worn away to a sparse amount and relocated to minimal resources. Being kind doesn't trump being responsible. Take a good look at those you break bread with.

This isn’t designed to be a “downer” this is simply to bring light to this day and it’s true meaning. BE THANKFUL! Thankful for the decisions you make, the things you learn, the life you have. Appreciate the REAL people in your life. Understand that it’s not about the people that come to party with you, it’s about the ones that stay after to help you clean up.

So I want everyone to take some time today to celebrate your harvest; watch some football, laugh with your loved ones, and save me a drumstick.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Feel Like A Man

If you ask my friends what I’m like, depending on which one you ask, you will get a wide range of responses. Some of my friends will tell you that I’m funny, some will say I’m quiet, others will say I never shut up, and of course the ever popular “asshole” will be thrown in from time to time…all true. The fact is, I have many different sides to my personality, like everyone else.

We are all complex creatures, capable of a rainbow of thoughts and emotions. But for some reason we like to condense and limit who we are down to a word or two. Why? Why are we not allowed to be more than 1 dimensional?

Often times as men, we’re quick to blame and mock women for being emotional. We act as if they should be faulted for having depth, for being multifaceted, for being more than 1 dimensional. Now I’m not claiming that I haven’t been guilty of this myself. I have, in typical male fashion, made my jokes and comments about how women are “all over the place”. Even to the point of calling them “crazy”, but deep down I know it’s because women excel in an area, we men do not…emotional expression.

Women are much more connected emotionally, and to our sometimes dismay, this can prove to be difficult for us men to handle. We can multi-task on the job, do countless equations in our head, even deal with grueling strenuous labor, but something about all that “emotion” just gets us. Not that we don’t have them, we just don’t deal with them in the same way.

As men, we’re given a pass on; anger, frustration, and disappointment, but aside from that we need to be all smiles. Women get to run the table on how they feel. Men do get thrown a few bones. We get; pride, ego, and all other self serving sins to play with, and that’s okay.

If we’re going to claim “dominance” and be these pillars of strength, responsibility and un-yielding structure, then we need to take the good with the bad. My note to you ladies; just because we don’t get the pass on emotions, don’t assume that we don’t have them. Men are capable of feeling everything you feel, we just choose not to express or recognize it. The sooner you grasp that one, the better equipped you’ll be to deal with us.

As women get older, the smart ones pick this up. That’s why the best advice a young man can get, is from an older woman. A lot of you younger ladies are still trying to figure that one out.

I’m simply saying that as a man, I’ve come to learn and “feel” the whole emotional spectrum from passion to pain. It is part of what has made me who I am. So gentlemen, being able to identify feelings will only make you a better man, for you, and for whatever woman you decide to be with. Once you can identify it, you then can understand, control, and deal with it.

So guys remember…you CAN feel…it’s alright…just none of that crying mess.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Opposites Attract

We’re all familiar with the cute and timeless phrase, “opposites attract”. You know, when the straight laced girl falls for the bad boy, or when the uptown corporate chick falls for the greasy mechanic, even when the country farm boy sweeps the city girl off her feet. All clich├ęs I know, but you get what I mean. Whenever we see two people that superficially should have nothing in common, we chalk it up to simply “opposites attract”.

Here’s the funny part…no they don’t. Not when it comes to people, not in relationships. I’m sure you’re thinking, “but after all of those examples, how is that true?” Well you know I’m not going to leave you hanging.

The fact is, it’s not our superficial circumstances that dictate who we are, or who we want. Think of relationships as a lock and key; two things that externally look nothing alike, but internally are identical. It’s why men fall for bitches, women fall for players and both fall for losers. She projects her insecurities and self esteem issues through a form of behavior that is rude, distant, antagonizing, and abusive. Meanwhile his insecurities and self esteem issues are exposed in the sense that he allows himself to be treated in such a manner. In the same way that an abused woman seeks out another abuser; It feeds the dysfunctional fire and allows both sides to “play their role”. We gravitate towards those that are familiar, not different. A little deep…

This subject came about from a discussion I had with this young woman. She couldn’t figure out why she couldn’t meet a “good man”. After asking a few questions, the answer was clear. She was a “Daddy’s girl”, even though growing up, he had a job that kept him from home. Her mold of a male relationship was based on one of a distant and unavailable man. (See “Daddy Dearest”) So she has always dated distant and unavailable men, now the funny part about it is…she is distant and unavailable. She finds men that behave like her father, but in turn are also, just like her. A little deeper...

Now some of you are like, “but I’m not distant but he/she is!” My response is, then that’s not the lock and key. Most of us only see the superficial, so here’s a few tips to let you know if you truly date “opposites” or you two might have more in common than you think:

If you have been in abusive relationships…you’re the same.
If you have been repeatedly cheated on…you’re the same.
If you date “dead beat” men/women…you’re the same.
If you have given ultimatums, but didn’t follow through…you’re the same.

And here’s why…the reason people abuse and allow themselves to be abused is the same reason, just like getting cheated on. Mutual low self-esteem, fear, and insecurity are the tools of the trade here. If you support a non-productive person, then something about that parent/child relationship is what you both need, it takes two to be co-dependent. And as for ultimatums…if you give them and don’t follow through, you didn’t truly want what you were demanding…just like them.

I know for a lot of folks out there this one is going to hurt, opposites don’t attract…at the core…you’re dating yourself. Once you realize and accept this, then you can start making better decisions in mates if need be, and honestly, some of you don’t. Some of you have had nothing but great dating experiences. Some of you met and married your true love straight out of the gates. But if you’re like the young lady and haven’t been so lucky, give it a little thought. So before you go heading out looking for the next contestants for a “Love Connection”…keep this in mind; I’ll leave you with what I left her:

Why try to put so much emphasis on what is different when you’re talking about building something together? Understand that who we date is a reflection of who we are, so you might need to learn yourself a little bit better, before you let the next one slip their key into your lock.

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pimps Up, Love Down

Where to begin? Well let’s get straight to it. I heard something recently that shocked me in a way that hasn’t happened in quite some time. I actually heard this phrase uttered out of this grown woman’s mouth. “I’m a bottom bitch for life. She can run around and play games but I keep it real, and hold it down.”

For those of you that are unfamiliar with a “bottom bitch” here is a quick tutorial. A bottom bitch is a pimp’s number one hoe, the one that he retains for himself, and leaves in charge to regulate and maintain his other prostitutes. I’ll wait… Yes this woman was bragging about being the number one, in a sea of miscellaneous women in her man’s life. She felt proud to know that no matter how many other women her man was sleeping with (and impregnating) she was his numero uno.

Now my beef is not with this guy. The fact that he convinced this woman to not only accept, but be happy with this concubine situation isn’t a knock to him. It’s speaks volumes to his character, but he’s being honest, truly keeping it real. He simply presented the option and she chose to deal with the situations and circumstances to be with him. This one is on her.

This pimp/hoe relationship is the new/old template for today’s relationships. It’s one based in dependency, exploitation, and honesty. A pimp is out to get what’s best for him at the expense of his hoe, all the while being honest about the situation to keep her loyal. He works under the guise and premise of caring about her and protecting her. By maintaining an honest relationship, even the most horrific experiences can be tolerated because there is no deception.

As of late, this decline in true fathers, (see “Daddy Dearest”) has left the door open to these predators. With no one teaching these women about their own self worth and value, a bottom bitch can be a great situation. She gets that feeling of importance, knowing that she has a place, a position. Above all else, regardless of however down she might get, she knows there is someone beneath her. Heaven forbid something ever happen to her man…a bottom bitch has responsibilities. She’s left to hold down the fort, to hold her man down.

Now all that sounds like a logical explanation, right? If you can personally relate to this situation, take a long hard look in the mirror, then at your palm…then SLAP YOURSELF!

A bottom bitch is not to be admired, respected and surely not an aspiration. Number one on a list of 15 or 20 may be great in some aspects of life, but not this one. Ladies get some self esteem. Pick up the needle on this broken record. You perpetuate this behavior by enduring it. Get yourself together. I know this begins with a lack of proper parenting, but if you’re grown you need to take responsibility for this.

The woman that I heard saying this crap was almost 30. Proud to be his “number one”. For any of you women out there on this same page, I don’t mean to burst your bubble, well maybe I do. Being a bottom bitch to a man is like getting an A in summer school! It’s nothing to brag about! Low expectation having...

I love women. You are the center of civilization, but what kind of civilization can exist, or will be created if its center lacks stability? Don't settle with being a "bottom" anything.

It’s not about being his “number one”…it’s about being his ONLY ONE.

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